MEND- Modeling Effective Network Disruptions for Human Trafficking

Presenter: Renuka Kannan

Research Category: Interdisciplinary Topics, Centers and Institutes
College: College of Engineering
Major(s): Industrial Engineering
Graduation Date: 2022

Human trafficking is a fundamental violation of rights and a documented problem within the US.  This project seeks to further the understanding of human trafficking operations and their network structures. Better understanding these networks and developing network models will help model effective disruptions to dismantle, not just displace, human trafficking operations.  

The project will be conducted with the use of qualitative research and operations research models with expertise and knowledge from a survivor-centered advisory group and a human trafficking investigative task force. We will model human trafficking networks to better understand the structure and function of the networks in sex trafficking operations.

Using qualitative research methods, we will identify shared objectives for interventions and disruptions across diverse stakeholders and model these interventions. These stakeholders include survivors, law enforcement, prosecutors, support networks, and government officials. We will work to examine and analyze conflicting or similar objectives amongst stakeholders and working with the advisory groups we will prioritize these goals. Data sources for the qualitative researchers include interviews with informants and survivors, case files, and the survivor advisory group. The qualitative information will be transformed into data that will be used to develop the mathematical operations research models.

The goal of this project is to provide key data to support decision-making amongst law enforcement, criminal justice professionals, and social services so these networks can be effectively disrupted.